July 15, 2013

Applying the Hierarchy of Effects (AIDA) to Lead Generation

In today’s market, simply spending money on clever advertising messages isn’t going to win you brand loyalty or a mass of new customers like it may have in the past. Customers are more educated and more distrustful of companies and therefore need more interaction with a brand than just a hollow advertising campaign. People choose to buy from companies they believe in, or at least believe in the message the company is promoting.

While times have changed, some marketing models have not, and may even prove more useful today than when first created. One such example is the AIDA model, commonly referred to as the Hierarchy of Effects. This model is credited to American advertising advocate E. St. Elmo Lewis. He postulated that:

The mission of an advertisement is to attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it; then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it; then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it. If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisement.

Broken down, AIDA is simply this:

  • A – Attention (or Awareness)
  • I – Interest
  • D – Desire
  • A – Action

For everything we purchase, we must go through these stages. A product has to attract our attention, then garner our interest to learn more about it, and then give us a feeling of desire for the product strong enough to bring us into action to actually purchase it.

It’s really quite simple when you break it down – which is great news for lead generation. When you know the steps or emotions a potential customer must go through to get to the “action” stage, you can lead them along with the right material to evoke the right feelings.

Even better, each step really only needs to do the job of getting the person to the next stage. You don’t need to waste time trying to sell someone who has never heard of your product or company. You just need to get their attention. So how do you do this? Here are a few tips to consider:


In short, the best way to get the attention you need is to be everywhere that your target consumer is. When you think of this stage as also being the “awareness” stage, it helps to get you in the right frame of mind. Set up a company blog, look at setting up partnerships with related, but non-competing companies and always be promoting. You don’t have to do big, attention-getting stunts to attract notice. Spending some quality time establishing who you could partner with or where your target market spends their time can create an even better, long-lasting impression than a few marketing stunts.


Traditionally, advertising would gain your interest by telling you how awesome some product was. Today, however, consumers are more “me” focused. They want to know how this product will better their lives. To gain interest, you have to demonstrate the benefits and advantages of the product or service in a way that will compel them to want to learn more. What pain points does your product solve? How will your product make your target consumer’s life easier, better, or safer?


Once your potential customer is interested in the product or service, it’s the right time to provide them with enough information to create desire for it. In the case of lead generation, you may not need to worry about creating a sense of desire for the actual purchase of the product, but rather the desire to know more. This is where you work on removing obstacles or barriers that may come up when evaluating the product or service. You will want to be addressing cost, ease of delivery, effectiveness of the product, etc. in a way that creates more desire for your product.


The final step is to have your potential customer take some sort of action. With lead generation that could mean anything from filling out a contact form to calling a representative, or even subscribing to a newsletter. Remember, the end goal is always to get your potential customer to take some sort of action. The goal of AIDA is to help you streamline the process so you can keep more potential customers during the sales cycle.